Increase police wages? Interior chief has concerns

Bea Cupin
Increase police wages? Interior chief has concerns
Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento emphasizes the need for 'balance' following the proposal of candidates Rodrigo Duterte and Alan Peter Cayetano to increase police wages

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a good promise for the country’s 160-000 strong police force, but Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento has his apprehensions over the proposal of presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and running mate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano to increase the salaries of police personnel to P75,000-P100,000 each within 3 years.

In a chance interview with reporters on Tuesday, January 5, Sarmiento said he “understands” the proposal but emphasized the need for “balance.”

“For the past so many decades, ang ating Capital Expenditures napakababa. Ngayon lang po tayo lumuwang, yung Capital Expenditures natin, pero naghahabol po tayo eh. Naghahabol tayo. Kailangan nating mag-invest nang mag-iinvest para tayo makahabol at hopefully matamaan natin ang ika nga, ang gusto nating makamit na inclusive growth,” he said.

(Our Capital Expenditure has been very low. It’s only now that we’ve had space for our Capital Expenditures but we’re playing catch-up. We need to invest so we can catch up and hopefully hit our goal of inclusive growth.)

Duterte and Cayetano are banking on the promise of judicial reform and curbing crime and corruption for their campaign, among other things. The proposal to increase the salary of police personnel was unveiled by Cayetano in a press briefing on Monday, January 4. (READ: A look at state of crime, drugs in PH)

Sarmiento, who has been Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief since September last year, said the current administration takes the needs of its personnel into consideration while looking at the “big picture.”

“May SSL (Salary Standardization Law) 4 tayo na tinitignan din naman ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga empleyado. Gaya ito ng isang pamilya eh. Ang isang pamilya, marami pang dapat magawa sa isang pamamahay… napakaimportante na tignan po natin ang kabuuan kasi baka mamaya sasabihin natin na ganito, eh papaano yan kapag hindi natin ma-sustain at mapabayaan naman natin ang iba nating pangangailangan so kailangan pag-aralan ng mabuti,” he said.

(There’s the SSL 4 that looks at the needs of our employees. We’re like a family. In a family, there are a lot of things that need to happen. It’s important to look at the big picture because we can say that we want to this but what if we’re unable to sustain it and end up leaving behind other needs. So it’s something that must be studied well.)

Huge salary bump

Prior to assuming his Cabinet post, Sarmiento represented Western Samar in Congress and was a member of the House of Representatives’ appropriations committee. He is a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), which is fielding former DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas II as its standard-bearer in 2016.

As it stands the lowest-raking police personnel, a Police Officer 1 (PO1), gets roughly P14,834 ($315) as his monthly base pay. Depending on where he or she is assigned, a PO1’s salary can reach up to P20,000, according to police officials in Camp Crame.

The PNP’s highest-ranking officer, a director general, gets roughly P67,500 ($1,400) a month as base pay but that salary can inch closer to P100,000 given various allowances.

Duterte’s and Cayetano’s proposal would mean that even PO1s get more than what the current Director General is earning.

The 2015 budget allocated over P60.6 billion for PNP personnel’s salaries. The tandem wants to spend P135.5 billion to P180.7 billion on uniformed personnel alone should they win. Cayetano, speaking to media, explained that their proposal to increase PNP pay would not require new taxes, citing the “normal increase of revenues” every year. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.